Is your dog a scratcher? Does your dog seem to love making claw marks on your floorboards? Why do dogs scratch floors and is there anything we can do about it?
Our dogs have lots of interesting characteristics and behaviours. Some of them are cute and endear them to us. But some of them are frustrating and cause damage. One such behaviour is floor scratching.
In this post I’m going to look at the reasons why dogs scratch floors and provide some guidance as to what you can do to stop this destructive behaviour.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Dogs Scratch Floors?
- How Do You Stop Dogs Scratching Floors?
- Related Posts
Why Do Dogs Scratch Floors?
There are many reasons why Dogs scratch floors and most of them are nothing to worry about.
So in no particular order, here are a.m.e of the reasons why your dog’s claws might be taking a particular shine to your flooring!
1. Comfort Scratching!
One of the most obvious reasons why dogs scratch at floors might simply be a desire to prepare a spot for lying down.
Even though your floor might not be the most comfortable place to lie down, and even if scratching at it isn’t going to make it any softer, your dog might imagine it’ll help!
This behaviour is likely something that dogs inherit from their ancestors, since it’s a behaviour that would have been useful in the wild to make a better place to sleep.
2. Floor Temperature
Scratching at a floor could potentially be a way for dogs to moderate temperature. On hot days when the ground is warm, a dog might scratch the floor to “unearth” a cool spot.
The reverse is true for cold days where the act of scratching at the floor might be an attempt to make a warm “nest”!
3. Territorial Marking
We know that many animals scratch things to mark their territory.
Scratches provide a visual clue that a particular area already has someone living there. However, dogs also secrete a scent from their paws when they’re scratching at the floor. This scent is in tended as a clear marker a dog’s territory
You may find that your dog scratches floors if you’ve had a recent visit from New people or even other dogs to your home.
4. There’s Something Under the Floor!
Dogs have much keener senses of smell and hearing than we do. It is entirely possible that your dog scratches at the floor if it hears something beneath it!
Your dog might hear an insect, or worse, a rodent, moving around beneath the floor, especially in a house with floorboards, and this might lead to it scratching to get to the source.
5. Boredom and Entertainment
Dogs get bored if they’re not stimulated… so when your dog scratches floors it may be because it finds the act stimulating.
The sensation and sound of scratching may provide an interesting source of entertainment, especially if it’s bored.
6. Excess Energy
Aside from the boredom dogs experience as a consequence of a lack of exercise, dogs also tend to have an excess of energy if they don’t get the exercise they need.
That energy often results in undesirable and destructive behaviours.
It may be that your dog scratches floors simply because that build up of energy has to go somewhere… and scratches in your floor might just be the result!
7. Attention Seeking Floor Scratching
It could be that your dog scratches the floor quite by accident on one occasion and as a consequence you immediately jumped up and scolded it or paid it some other demonstration of attention.
Our dogs are smart and learn to associate events and consequences. If your dog doesn’t understand from Your attention that its doing something it shouldn’t, it may perceive scratching floors as a way to get your attention.
8. Your Dog is Crated
If you’re trying to get your dog used to sleeping in a crate at night, you may find it doesn’t like it at all!
Why would they when their parents have a lovely bed they’d love to share? As a Whippet owner I know how much dogs love sleeping in their owners beds!
We have a two years old black Labrador that randomly digs the floor of his crate in the middle of the night. When it reaches bed time, he will happily walk into his crate and start to sleep. For whatever reason, he will wake up a few hours later and start to dig the floor for at least a minute. This wakes us up. Any suggestions for stopping the digging behavior? We tried lining the crate with a blanket but this hasn’t made much of a difference.
Anxiety is another potential reason why dogs scratch floors. It could be isolated anxiety incidents caused by storms or sudden loud noises, or it could be as a consequence of nervousness.
It may be that your dog feels anxious if it’s left at home alone for long periods or if you’re renovating your home…. even reorganising your room into an unfamiliar layout can be enough to make some dogs anxious.
Some medical conditions that cause pain can often cause dogs to scratch floors.
Arthritic pain, soreness or paw related pain might well result in your dog scratching things to relieve itself from the pain it feels… even if that pain comes from the paws themselves.
This may seem counter-intuitive to us, and we may not even be able to see why a dog might be feeling pain to the extent it starts scratching at the floor.
11. Compulsive Behaviour
It’s not unusual for dogs to have particular idiosyncrasies personal to them. However, when those idiosyncrasies become compulsive it suggests something’s not quite right.
If your dog scratches at floors in an obsessive way that doesn’t appear to be triggered by something you can understand, it may be it has developed a disorder whereby it feels pushed to satisfy a compulsive need requiring specialised help.
12. Cognitive Dysfunction
Sadly our dogs get older and one of the signs of ageing can be cognitive dysfunctional conditions such as canine dementia.
Cognitive dysfunction can result in a number of disoriented or dysfucntional behaviours, some of which may be destructive such as scratching or digging at floors.
How Do You Stop Dogs Scratching Floors?
The approach to stopping your dog scratching at your floors really depends upon the reason why it’s doing so and whether or not it’s causing damage you’re going to have to repair.
The first question you’ll need to try to understand answer is the reason for your dog’s scratching.
Does it look distressed or confused? Is it full of energy? Has it been exercised? Does it seem to be in any pain? Is it too cold or too hot indoors?
If your dog scratches floors because it’s hot or too cold it might mean you need to adjust the temperature at home by turning up the heating or opening some doors and windows.
Dogs generally scratch floors for a reason!
Perhaps your dog has heard a critter under the floor and is scratching to get at it? If this is the case you might need to check what it is to understand if it’s something you need to be concerned about.
If you haven’t taken your dog out for exercise, it may have a surplus of energy or it may simply be bored. A good walk and some play might be all it takes to stop it scratching your floors.
Maybe you dog has learned that scratching the floor wins your attention. If this is the case, try not to over-react whenever it scratches the floor and try to divert its attention elsewhere. If you can predict when your dog might start scratching, you might be able to “cut it off at the pass” by diverting its attention before it even starts to scratch.
Sometimes dogs scratch floors for the medical reasons I’ve mentioned. They may be overly anxious, in pain or have condition that results in compulsive behaviours. They may also be suffering the effects of age.
If you feel your dog is scratching the floor because it’s unwell in some way, the best thing to do is to visit a veterinary professional for advice.
Summary: Why Do Dogs Scratch Floors?
Dogs scratch floors for a variety of reasons. Regardless of the reason why, it can be irritating if your dog leaves scratch marks in the floor as a consequence.
The good news is that it should be possible to identify why your dog is scratching at your floor and either put in place a plan to discourage it from doing so or by following the advice of a veterinary professional.
Does your dog scratch floors? Did you ever get to the bottom of why they did so? What did you do about it? Please leave a comment or question in the section at the bottom of this page as I’d love to hear from you.
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